Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Having nothing better to do (or watch) we decided to try our luck with the movie, Employee of the Month. We've seen the trailer once before and the plot was so-so the others didn't even remember how it went. But what Writer/Director Greg Coolidge came up with had us laughing almost all throughout the movie even though the plot was as thin as they come. The story's simple enough to figure out where it's going and how it'll end even before you get into the fourth of the movie. It's set in a Costco-type called Super Club, Vince (Dax Shepard) lords it over the others by being consecutively voted by the bosses as "Employee of the Month" for the 17th time, one more vote and he's set to win a brand new car and a slot in the company's hall of fame. On the other end of the spectrum, on the lowest rung of the ladder, lies a bunch of slackers: the almost-blind optometrist, Lon (Andy Dick); the guy who takes a lot of absences due to family matters, Iqbal (Brian George); and, I don't know what he does, Russell (Harland Williams). They hang around a lot in their makeshift club house inside one of the huge shelves playing cards with their fourth member, who looks to be the unspoken leader of their group, the boxboy, Zack (Dane Cook). They're a contented bunch happily floating in the sea of life, gambling for product rejects during their card games, and maintaining their status-quo among the other employees by playing their cards right. Everything would have remained the same if it were not for the beautiful blonde, Amy (Jessica Simpson) coming on board. She's also an employee of Super Club in another state whose asked to be transferred after running in some trouble in the romance department of her previous employment. Although Zack saw her first, Vince stole his thunder and began dazzling her with his charms. After sneaking out some 411 on her files, the boys learn that she's got a thing for the "Employee of the Month," that she only dates them and no one else. This strenghtens Zack's resolve to not only win what he knows to be the only girl for him but also get back at his nemesis as well by vying for the top spot. The results of the competition between Zack and Vince provide much of the laughs and tears for most of the movie.
What made the whole thing work were the likeability of the characters. Everyone worked as they should have and in so doing did the audience, not to mention, the producers, a whole lot of favor by saving the movie from falling into ruin. Of course there are still some things I'd rant about, like Ms. Simpson's acting which was non-existent. She looked as if the whole thing was a walk-through. She came on not playing a character you could sympathize with, she was playing herself. And although I did want to give her a chance she just couldn't let herself go, looking at it years from now you'd realize how much of a lousy actress she was in this one. Although Mr. Shepard was credible enough for you to want to hate him for being so brash and ostentatious with his take on his character, there was still something else missing with it. He's introduced as an Alpha Male, he acts like one but you don't feel it. It's as if you know that it's just a facade he's putting up to make himself bigger than he really was. Mr. Ramirez did a lot better than Shepard did and he played the sidekick. He did a solid job and didn't go overboard with his role although, as I could imagine, it was awfully tempting to do so. Mr. Cook took the lead with his subtle acting and little nuances that made you sympathize with him. Like the way Anne Hathaway's character in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, I don't get why Zack had to be ostracized by his friends for breaking out of his comfort zone and wanting to make something out of his life other than being just another regular employee. I mean, there's something to be said about completely abandoning and replacing them with an entirely new set of friends or completely losing touch with them but seeing him gaining his ambition and wanting to make up for all the times he's lost with them whenever he can I think his friends should be mature enough to handle that. It's not like he's leaving them altogether, as he says he's leading the way for them to finally enter the awesomely cool cashier's lounge after all those years in the other crappy lounge. It turns out that they're the ones who changed and not the protagonist himself, in doing so instead of seeing a sympathizing with them for being left out you'd want to strangle them for being such selfish boobs. I do wish to see Mr. Cook in future leading roles with a lot of good supporting casts, as the chemistry between him and his posse could have been more strongly felt than this one. It's a pretty decent movie all in all, some changes in the cast and a tighter direction could have done the trick, it's good for a lot of laughs but don't expect anything higher than that.
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.